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City of Brisbane Business License Tax, Measure T (November 2013)

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A City of Brisbane Business License Tax, Measure T ballot question was on the November 5, 2013, election ballot for voters in the city of Brisbane in San Mateo County, which is in California. It was approved.

This measure was estimated to increase city revenue into the general fund by $400,000.[1]

Election results

Measure T
Approveda Yes 881 77.1%
These final, certified results are from the San Mateo County elections office (timed out).

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure T:

To pay for general municipal expenses, shall the City increase the annual business license tax for liquid storage facilities up to $115.28 per one thousand cubic feet of liquid storage capacity, and provide for an offset for sales tax revenue received?[1][2]



  • San Mateo County Democratic Party[3]
  • Raymond C. Miller, Mayor of Brisbane
  • W. Clarke Conway, Mayor Pro Tem of Brisbane
  • Clifford R. Lentz, Council Member, City of Brisbane
  • Terry O'Connell, Council Member, City of Brisbane


Proponents of Measure T had outlined their arguments in the League of Women Voters’ Voter Guide. The arguments included the following:[4]

  • The increased revenues will help secure community-wide services to preserve the city's quality of life.
  • "We need to diversify our tax base. Approving this measure will increase our tax base and help secure our General Fund, which supports important public services: public safety, emergency response, road repair, parks, recreation, and open space acquisition and management."
  • "Our community continues to explore every possibility to ensure our long-term financial future without placing an undue burden on residents or businesses. The City has cut staff, lowered wages, increased taxes on hotels and other large corporations; yet our fiscal future is still uncertain. This measure requires businesses that own large liquid storage facilities to pay their fair share."
  • Attempting a rebuttal against opponents who argued that the tax increase might drive businesses away, proponents argued, "Kinder Morgan... [is] a spinoff from Enron. Its web site claims that it is the "largest independent terminal operator in North America" with an enterprise value of $115 billion. It is a Fortune 500 company with over $300 million in profits and over 10,000 employees." Currently, Kinder Morgan is paying less in taxes than hotels in the area, yet makes a much larger profit. Kinder Morgan isn't going to leave over a "modest" tax increase.



No on Measure T led the campaign against Measure T.[5]


  • Walter Peters, resident of Brisbane


Opponents of Measure T outlined their arguments in the League of Women Voters’ Voter Guide. The arguments included the following:[6]

  • Measure T will hurt the city's economy.
  • Kinder Morgan, a company that would see a tax increase, has been good to the community and provided tax revenues. If this "unfair tax" passes, Kinder Morgan could close.

No on Measure T listed the following reasons to vote against the measure on their website:

  • "In the last three years, two large companies have left our community, taking their jobs and tax revenue with them. Now, city leaders want to increase taxes on yet another company and force them to pay 400 times more. This is just bad economic planning."
  • "Brisbane needs a plan to attract and retain businesses that will increase our revenue base. City officials say they want to diversify our tax base, but all they are doing is taxing one company and making it harder to do business here."


City Attorney David Kahn wrote an analysis of Measure T:[5]

Ballot Measure T was placed on the ballot by the City Council and proposes the adoption of an increased business license tax for liquid storage facilities in the City of Brisbane. The City of Brisbane currently imposes a business license tax on any business that is located in the City, pursuant to Chapter 5.20 of the Brisbane Municipal Code. Liquid storage facilities currently pay a business license tax that is based on either gross receipts or number of employees, whichever produces the larger tax. The 2012 business license tax paid by liquid storage facilities in the City of Brisbane was approximately $1,056. The business license tax is a general tax, and the tax proceeds are deposited into the City's general fund and may be used for any municipal purpose. The proposed amendment to the business license tax ordinance would set an increased rate of up to $115.28 per 1,000 cubic feet of liquid storage capacity. The actual annual tax rate would be established by Council resolution, and the increased tax rate could be, but is not required to be, phased in. The tax due from liquid storage facilities would be reduced, on a dollar for dollar basis, for sales tax received as the result of sales from the liquid storage facilities by either the operator of the liquid storage facility or other persons using the liquid storage facility as the point of sale. When fully implemented, the effect of the increased business license tax for liquid storage facilities is anticipated to increase tax revenues by approximately $400,000 based on the capacity of current liquid storage facilities in the City of Brisbane. The tax cannot be increased in the future without voter approval. A "Yes" vote is a vote in favor of increasing the business license tax on liquid storage facilities. A "No" vote is a vote against increasing the business license tax on liquid storage facilities. A majority of "Yes" votes is required for the ballot measure to pass.[2]

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